Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., and Senate colleagues passed legislation today that encourages people to seek genetic services by reducing fears about the misuse or unwarranted disclosure of genetic information.
The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2003, S. 1053, passed the Senate by a vote of 95-0. The bill prohibits discrimination on the basis of genetic information for health insurance and employment and protects the privacy of that information.
Enzi, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and cosponsor of the bill, has worked continuously with Senate colleagues to pass genetic nondiscrimination legislation.
Genetic nondiscrimination legislation has also been introduced in the House.
Enzi's statement follows.
Statement of Senator Michael B. Enzi S. 1053 The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act
Fifty years ago James Watson and Francis Crick discovered the structure of the DNA molecule - the blueprint of life. Their discovery laid the foundation for predicting and treating the hereditary diseases that threaten us.
The completion of the Human Genome Project in April, 2003 was a significant step towards this goal. Because of the work of these scientists, we now are able to decipher the exact sequence of the genetic code. This knowledge will allow earlier detection and more effective treatment of genetic illnesses.
However, genetic information brings challenges along with promise. The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act will ensure that the promise of genetic information is not hindered by fears about its misuse. This legislation will protect individuals from discrimination in health insurance and employment on the basis of genetic information.
I want to thank my Colleagues on both sides of the aisle for crafting a bill that fairly and effectively protects people against genetic discrimination. In doing so, we have been mindful of existing discrimination and privacy laws and regulations. While the issue is complex, our objective is clear - to encourage people to seek genetic services by reducing fears about the misuse or unwarranted disclosure of genetic information.
Today, we mark the 50th anniversary of Watson and Crick's historic discovery with the passage of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act. With each new advance in genetic science, the significance of this legislation grows. By allaying fears about genetic discrimination in health insurance and in the workplace, this legislation will save lives now and in generations yet to come.